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An accountant’s guide to post-pandemic growth

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From Accountingweb: The Covid-19 pandemic made 2020 incredibly unpredictable for most professions, including accountancy. With the virus now winding down and “business as usual” resuming across the United States, Heather Robinson of Boomer Consulting says it’s crucial for accountants to take a proactive approach to ensure their firms experience post-pandemic growth.

The past year has been a wild ride for most firms. Some have done exceptionally well, while others have struggled to hold onto clients and develop new business. Without travel, in-person networking and other traditional business development activities, firms have had to pivot to video conferencing, social media and other new digital marketing and business development strategies. What hasn’t changed is that winning and retaining clients are all about providing value.

With the U.S. economy roaring back to life in 2021, firms have tremendous opportunities ahead. Here’s your guide to seizing those opportunities to grow in the post-pandemic world.

Nurture the Clients You Have

Some firms put marketing and business development initiatives on hold during 2020 while they focused on the extended tax deadlines, assisting clients with Paycheck Protection Program loans and adapted to remote auditing. As you dive back into business development activities, don’t overlook the value of maintaining your current clients.

If you have a blog, email newsletter, podcast and other communication methods you use to reach potential clients, use them to connect with your current clients so they’re aware of all of the different services you offer.

Time and again, clients hire another firm to handle specialized services because they’re not aware that their current firm can take care of it. Don’t assume that clients read and remember detailed information from your website. When clients visit your website, they’re usually focused on solving a specific problem, and they rarely look around. Offering occasional reminders of the other ways you can solve their problems and deliver value ensures your clients will think of you when they have a need.

Focus on the Client Experience

Quality work, timeliness and excellent overall service go a long way toward ensuring your clients are happy, but so does the ease with which existing and potential clients can interact with you.

Ensure you’re providing clients with the tools to easily communicate, access information and collaborate with your firm. Too often, firms focus on technologies that improve their own efficiency, and the client experience takes a back seat. This focus on operational efficiency is short-sighted and overlooks the fact that providing value from the client’s experience is paramount.

Everything you do should be focused on making your clients’ lives easier. Some ideas include:

  • Embedding chatbots in your website to answer simple questions or quickly connect clients and prospects with a knowledgeable and friendly member of your firm for more complex inquiries
  • Leveraging content and social media in your marketing strategy to position your firm as an authority on matters that are important to your clients
  • Taking advantage of technology that allows clients to answer questions, sign engagement letters, and send and receive documents securely using their mobile device
  • Updating your firm’s website to ensure the layout and content are attractive, the design is mobile-friendly, and potential clients can easily find your contact information, schedule an appointment, download free resources, etc.

By making the client’s life easier, it’s easier for them to respond to your requests, which makes your life simpler as well.

Recapturing Campaigns

Do visitors to your website download resources and then never engage your services? Do you have former or inactive clients you haven’t checked in with in a while? Try turning them into active prospects with a recapturing campaign.

In a recapturing campaign, you create a specific email list for inactive clients and prospects and create an email campaign just for them. Ensure the campaign has a personalized message that adds — the more relevant your messaging, the greater your chance of recapturing their business.

We use a basic five-part email series for recapturing campaigns:

  1. Reintroduction. Don’t kick off your communication with a promotional email, as it can be off-putting. Instead, begin with a friendly introduction and remind them that you used to work together (or they previously downloaded a resource). Consider giving them an opportunity to re-subscribe to your newsletter or download a new resource.
  2. Problem and solution. Clients don’t work with you because they like getting audits, tax returns or advisory services. They do it because they want to solve a problem. So your second email should show that you understand the problems they need to solve and how you provide a solution.
  3. Incentive. A recapturing campaign isn’t the time to put the hard sell on inactive clients, but you can get creative with bringing them back. Consider offering an incentive such as a free 30-minute consultation, a checklist with information they might find useful, a free ebook or white paper or an invitation to a webinar.
  4. Testimonial/client feedback. Testimonials and positive client feedback are incredibly valuable pieces of marketing material. It’s nice to talk about how great your services are, but it’s even more effective to let other’s success speak for itself. Sharing client feedback creates a sense of trust between you and the potential client and helps build your authority.
  5. Last chance email. When a client is considering re-engaging with you, they need to overcome objections. The objection could be price, worry that they won’t get enough value, don’t have the time, it won’t meet their needs, etc. In your final email, acknowledge their likely objection and show that not only are your services worth it, but your team can help them get the most value.

As we move forward into the future, it’s important to be intentional. Be intentional about your marketing efforts, business development initiatives and growth strategies in the post-pandemic world and your firm will thrive in a brighter, more hopeful future.